Pep Guardiola once again lamented the rough treatment dished out to his players after Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 15 points thanks to a 3-0 win at home to West Brom.
Kevin De Bruyne laid on Fernandinho’s 19th-minute opener before creating and finishing City’s second midway through the second half.
James McClean hacked into the back of De Bruyne in the build-up to that goal and, after Sergio Aguero added gloss to the scoreline, Matt Phillips launched a knee-high challenge on teenage City substitute Brahim Diaz.
Guardiola asked for officials to protect players after Cardiff City’s Joe Bennett left Leroy Sane with ankle ligament damage in Sunday’s 2-0 FA Cup victory and such calls seemingly went unheeded after referee Bobby Madley only booked McClean and Phillips.
“We spoke with Kevin [Friend] the fourth official. They have an opinion, I have another one but they are the bosses. We have to accept that,” Guardiola told a post-match news conference.
“Today we were lucky. We could be unlucky like with what happened three days ago with Leroy. The images speak for themselves.
“To say the same as what I said after the previous game is not necessary. The chat [with Friend] was good and that’s all.”
While De Bruyne and Brahim emerged unscathed, playmaker David Silva was substituted with a hip injury shortly before half-time and is a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Burnley.
“He had a tough kick here [his hip] in a painful area. I don’t know if he will be able to play in two days and a half. We will see.”
Seemingly prompted in part by Sane’s injury, City launched a late bid to bring in Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City but a deal could not be agreed as the clubs remained some way apart on their valuation.
“He is a Leicester player, so you know I don’t talk about too much,” Guardiola said, having announced youth-team forward Lukas Nmecha would now train with his squad for the remainder of the season.
“The transfer window is done, it is over and the guys who are here, we are going to finish the season.”
It was a transfer window that saw Aymeric Laporte become City’s record signing and, a day on from completing his £57million switch from Athletic Bilbao, the centre-back made and assured and untroubled debut.
“Laporte, after 45 minutes training, he comes in and plays like that and wow, I think ‘what a central defender we have brought in’,” Guardiola added.
“People say he’s expensive but maybe he will end up being cheap.”